June 21, 2015
She's pretty sure she's forgotten how to sleep.
The last time she made the effort to try to remember the last time she'd got some rest it had been three days since she'd taken a nap, so, it's been a while. That's not counting the accidental dozes she sometimes takes, but those barely count. They're always for no more than five minutes and she always ends up feeling worse once she comes round from one. Whatever. It's nothing a cup of coffee and a Red Bull can't fix.
Fuck, this damn campaign is going to give her a stroke.
She's not even thirty.
Still, it takes fucking effort to be twenty-eight and already be the manager of a damn presidential campaign. She can sleep when William Schuester becomes President of the United States.
If he makes her his Chief Of Staff she's pretty sure she hasn't got a hope in hell of sleeping in the next four years, and it's looking that way. She'd rip his balls of if he didn't and he knows it.
"Lopez, wake the fuck up."
She jolts, eyes bleary and blinks an unnecessary amount of times.
How the fuck did that happen?
"Lopez!" someone snaps and she jolts again, blinks some more until she realizes she's not wearing her glasses. That kind of explains it. "What are you doing?"
She buries around under a trees worth of paper and finds her glasses, pushing them quickly up her nose. The image of Noah Puckerman in his Bears jersey comes into focus and she scoffs.
"Sorry, sorry," she mumbles straightening her desk. "I was just resting my eyes for a minute."
"And practicing your drooling?" he says cocking an eyebrow. "What I meant was, what are you doing sleeping in your office? You look like shit, babe. Just... FYI."
She scoffs because, ugh, babe. She's not a pig but she most certainly is a feminist and he's vile.
"I had work to do," she grumbles, searching through the pages of statistics and polling data she'd been raking through before she assumes she nodded off. "What time is it?"
She stops and peers at him over the top of her glasses. "So, what the hell are you doing here?"
"Oh, yeah." He flops down into the chair in front of her and pulls a damn sandwich out of thin air. He pulls back the wrapper and takes a bite. For a moment, Santana's pretty sure that he's forgotten what he was doing, but then he's kicking his feet up onto her desk and turning to her.
"Turn on CNN."
She looks at him curiously but then reaches around for the remote to the TV that's always kept on stand-by for emergencies like this. She flicks it on and finds the channel but then pauses because of what it tells her.
A news anchor on one side of the split screen talks to a reporter on the other side and words run underneath them both declaring in bold, definitive font what they're reporting. For a second, Santana's pretty sure she's sleeping again and this is just a dream, but she pinches herself discreetly and coroners start yanking out a body bag and the reality comes crashing down on her like the best bucket of ice cold water. She opens her mouth, gaping like a fish as she turns to Puckerman. He's grinning like an idiot when she finally manages to look at him. Words like cocaine, prostitutes and overdose are the only ones her brain are registering. Whether it really understands what they mean for her is to be decided.
"So," Puck says when it's been five minutes of Santana looking from the TV to him, to the TV to him. He throws his trash across the room into the can and shrugs his shoulders with that look in his eye. "Any chance of a celebration?"
She was the only one in the office at eleven o'clock but by four-thirty half of her staff are at their desks, waiting for instruction.
"Where the fuck is he?" Santana says searching, only finding the intern she sent away fifteen minutes ago to get her coffee.
Puck's still sat in front of the TV, watching as events unfold across the country. She guesses that there's little else to report on at this time of the morning because there's still a reporter watching the events outside the LA hotel on one side of the screen, but there's also the anchor and a political commentator on the other side debating how these events might affect what happens in Iowa and New Hampshire.
The poor guy's not even cold yet and they're already moving on from the loss.
She's also confused to why they aren't noticing that the only people they're bringing out the hotel in cuffs are men in very badly made suits.
"He had that thing downtown earlier," Puck says bored. "They're probably not even at home yet." His feet are kicked up onto the shelves that cover the walls of her office, holding her books and the tons of carbon-copy files she keeps, just in case of a technological failure. "Do you think we could convince a couple of those interns to go get us pizza or something? I'm starving."
Santana scoffs. She needs numbers and dates and fucking... graphs. She needs lots of damn graphs, tables and charts because all the ones she had are now irrelevant because, with one wrong snort of some high-class hooker's crappy cocaine, the entire game has changed.
Her mind is working in overdrive and she's pretty sure it's fate or something that she managed to fall asleep for three hours because now she's buzzing with energy. Strategy and theory are pulsing through her body and, she wouldn't usually admit it, but a slice of pizza might just set her off on her A-game.
"It's their job," she shrugs. "I'm pretty sure they have to do anything we ask of them if it aids the forward progression of this campaign. One of its leading consultants can't work if he's hungry, so just... go ask one of them." He nods and is out of his chair on his way to the door before she notices. When she does notice, she calls his name softly, eyes still on last night's stats. He pokes his head back around the doorway and she shakes her head at him. "Please don't have sex with them while you're there."
He grins and she knows it's just going to make him try harder.
Quinn appears around five am, one of the last to arrive. She's got her big sunglasses on (the ones that block out the most sunlight), and Santana rolls her eyes before her best friend has even opened her mouth.
"Why does rum always give me cotton mouth when vodka and gin don't?" is the first thing she says as she collapses backwards onto the couch in the corner. Seriously, sometimes Santana's pretty sure she's running a pre-school, not a Presidential campaign. Quinn holds her head in her hands. "It doesn't make any sense."
Santana doesn't spare her a glance, trying her hardest to remember that Quinn has a PhD from Yale. "When you're done doing that do you mind doing your job and like... giving media advice to this campaign?"
Quinn pulls one of the plain, scratchy throw cushions onto her face and moans in what sounds like pain. Santana doesn't really care enough to work it out. "Give me coffee and I'll do anything you want," she pulls the cushion away. "And I mean anything."
"I'm serious. I'm not wearing any underwear and I have a hangover the size of Puckerman's ego."
Santana snorts. "If you'd said 'penis' I would have had no sympathy for you whatsoever."
"The amount of times you've had sex with him says differently," Quinn snorts dryly.
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Santana says before she shouts "COFFEE!" at a passing intern. "I haven't had sex with Puck for ages."
"The orgasm glow in your cheeks says differently too," Quinn chuckles through her nose. "As does the fact that your underwear is hanging off the back of your chair."
Santana turns sharply and sure enough, there are her panties, clinging to the back of the chair. She grabs them, scoffs and blushes at the same time before slipping into her seat and yanking them back up her legs. Quinn watches her the whole time with a pleased smirk on her face.
"Is he really that good?" she asks curiously.
Santana just looks up at her, severely unimpressed that no one wants to talk about the most important thing right now; the reason why they're all at work at five am. "You'll have to find that out for yourself," she mumbles stubbornly.
An intern enters with two cups of coffee and Quinn takes hers brightly, sitting up and blowing her short, scruffy hair from her eyes. The intern barely pays them any attention as she carries a stack of papers under both arms and a report file in between her teeth. She also wears a fanny pack and seems to have about four Blackberrys attached to a very ugly belt.
"I already did!" Quinn says suddenly confused. "That probably says a lot, but I'd had a bottle of rum at the time and the only thing I do remember is the cotton mouth. He's gotta be huge."
The intern is still stood by Santana's desk but she doesn't seem fazed by the conversation, or its inappropriateness. She looks between them as she puts down one of the stacks of papers, to hand the file to Santana, and narrows her eyes.
"He's not," Santana says, looking at the new information in front of her.
The intern just stands there, still looking between both of them. When the moment starts to get awkward and Quinn still hasn't said anything, Santana looks up, irritated.
"Are you talking about Puckerman?" the intern asks. Quinn nods. "He's really not," she says before heading back to the doorway where she turns back to them. "Average. A lot of room for improvement, if you ask me."
She leaves, running into the man himself in the doorway. Quinn stares at him intrigued and Santana just smirks into her cup of coffee. He looks at Quinn reproachfully when she doesn't stop staring at his crotch with everything but lust. His hands cover himself carefully as he turns to Santana.
"Boss is back," he says carefully and it's the second best lot of news she's had all night.
Except, Will doesn't look too happy for a person whose odds of becoming president just increased tenfold. He actually looks pretty pissed.
"Are you serious?" he says. "This is allyou woke me up for? Just to tell me that Ryan's dead?"
The entire team of strategists and consultants behind her remain silent. Will's about as intimidating as a fucking dead fly but it's not really him they're worried about. Santana steps closer, scoffing as she goes, hip cocked and hand resting on it. The entire group takes a step back to get out of her way.
"Are you fucking kidding me?" she scoffs, eyes narrowed. "Are you stupid or just stupid? Your main damn opponent, the man that's been kicking your ass for the past six fucking months just burned up his campaign in a fiery ball of overdose and scandal making you looking like the fucking light of God shines out of your ass and you don't even give a shit?"
He stands up, knuckles leaning against his desk and pushes himself towards her. "No, that's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is that the guy just damn died and you're more concerned about how we're going to get his fucking endorsements than you are about writing the damn statement I'm going to give the news the minute I should be waking up. That's what you should be worried about." Around the room, everyone looks at each other, all except Santana who stares at Will with murderous contempt. "This is what I pay you for," he says, slapping a hand onto his desk with every word. "What good am I here when I should be at home resting? What do you want Santana? You want me to write the damn thing myself?"
Santana tries to step forward but finds Quinn's fingers tugging her back by the waistband of her skirt so that Will can't see. She coughs once, which Santana knows means don't. The last thing she wants is another lecture about how maybe Santana should consider anger management again but he's such an asshole she can't help herself.
"You also pay me to provide you with advice on how to win this fucking election," she says low and unsteady with anger. "You pay me to manage this campaign so it's successful. This is how things are out here, okay? This is how politics work. This isn't just fucking Ohio now. This is the country we're talking about running, the whole fucking world, so how about you be prepared to lose a little bit of sleep like the rest of us, huh? How about you keep your fucking promises to make a change and act like the leader you say you're going to be."
Will's jaw tenses and he starts to breathe unevenly. Quinn grips tighter at her skirt, except she feels like maybe that isn't to stop her from jumping forward anymore, but to be able to pull her quickly back if Will clears the desk and starts mauling her.
Santana doesn't waver, though. She looks at him and thinks of all the shit that comes out his mouth, all the promises he made her and all the potential she saw in him when he cornered her at that fucking mixer in Washington. She replays all the words that were convincing enough that she even moved back to Ohio after ten years, when she promised herself that she'd never set foot here again. It's been getting a lot harder to not think it's all bullshit, recently. Really, really hard.
"That's how politics works, huh?" he says after a few moments, voice shaky. "You're twenty-eight. This is your third job in three years. What the hell would you know?
Santana swallows and laughs at him mirthlessly. Her fingers clench at the papers in her hands and , without a thought, throws them into his face. He splutters but she doesn't care. She hopes he gets a paper cut in his stupid butt chin.
"A hell of a lot more than you," she quips dangerously before shrugging out of Quinn's grasp and turning on her heel. "Gimme a call when you wanna win," she tosses over her shoulder, sad that she can't see Will's face when she slams the door.
It takes twelve hours, CNN, Fox News and every political news outlets in the country to comment on the Schuester campaign's lack of reaction to Ryan's death for him to come crawling back.
Quinn finds her, sitting at the end of a bar getting hit on by three Ohio State boys, and thirty minutes later he's wandering in before his bodyguard and wife, begging her to tell him what to do.
She would brag and rub it in, but it got boring after the fifth time.
He gives a statement on the steps of the Ohio State Capitol to a crowd of cameras and recorders early the next morning.
"Bryan Ryan's untimely death is a loss to the political community," he says, wearing a black tie instead of his usual blue one. "It would not be an exaggeration to say that it's possible that America has lost a man who could have become one of the greatest presidents this country has ever seen, with a great vision to change it for the better. It is left behind for me, as his fellow Democratic candidate, to channel those ideas to avoid the loss of his genius and honor them in his memory. I send my condolences to his wife and family, and mourn the loss of a friend and mentor who greatly affected not just my life, but the the lives of the thousands who admired him. Thank you."
Santana stands to the side clutching her notes to her chest. She's there to meet him as he steps back towards the building, away from the press and shakes his head at her as he approaches.
"I still think I should have said I'd go to the funeral," he mumbles, waving to the crowds as they disappear back inside.
Santana shakes her head. "And what? Have me magic the time for you to go out my ass? If you say you're going to the funeral you look like an ass when you don't turn up. Priorities."
"It'll make me look good."
Santana scoffs. "You'll look like an ass because of those ad libs you just put in that speech. Do you realize what you just practically promised?" Will looks at her confused and she laughs a little. "Bryan Ryan built an entire campaign around all the things you're pretty much against."
"Yeah," she says dryly. "So, if you'll excuse me, I have to go find a way to make you not look like a flakey idiot." He nods and she rolls her eyes. "Wish me luck," she says. "Here's your notes for the fundraiser in Dayton."
There's some more negative press for a couple more days before she writes him a speech in Hartford that gets him a fifteen minute standing ovation.
Two days after that, he's in first place again and everyone's of the opinion that he's got the candidacy in the bag.
She steps into her office the morning after to a bottle of champagne and a note.
I'd be lost without you, kid. It says. Get some sleep tonight. You're gonna need it once we're in Washington.
She smirks and starts to remember all the reasons she believed him in the first place.
She gets two days off for the Fourth of July weekend and comes back on the morning of the seventh to chaos.
"He didn't come home last night," Mike tells her as he meets her at the doors to the building clutching a cup of coffee he instantly hands her. She likes Mike, he's prompt and useful and doesn't seem to be capable of putting a foot out of place. "The pilot was waiting for him at 6am this morning, because he has the meeting with the school board in Des Moines, and he wasn't there."
Santana sips the coffee. "What do you mean?" she says lowly, hoping to hell that she's hearing wrong. "He was meant to be having a quiet weekend at home with the kids."
Mike nods. "I know," he hands her some mail and she flicks through the envelopes. "But we called Emma once the pilot called us and she said that he told her that he had to stay in Des Moines until today because he had meetings all the way through until tonight."
Santana pauses, a mix of alarm and anger suddenly thrumming through her. She looks around them wary of anyone overhearing and then thinks better, dragging Mike into an empty elevator and closing the door before anyone else can jump in.
"Promise me that you said nothing to Emma about there being zero meetings with anyone until this afternoon?" she says warningly, daring him to lie.
Mike shakes his head adamantly. "I told her that I must be looking at the wrong schedule and said that I was sorry I'd bother her so early."
Santana nods, relieved. "Good," she mumbles, more to herself than him because, God, not again. She paces the elevator as it takes them high up the building. "He's probably forgotten that he actually does have a meeting this afternoon, so you need to be quick and get Quinn and Puck to help you," she says quietly. "Call all the normal sorts of places and try all the usual names. Do whatever you need to do to keep this quiet and call the pilot; tell him we're on our way."
It doesn't take long because he's nothing but a creature of habit. Santana takes a look at the place from her seat in the cab and makes a note to get him tested for all kinds of things because, Jesus. Not even she had to steep this low at her very worst.
"He promised you he wasn't going to do this again," Quinn says quietly from beside her. Santana just gives her a look that quickly silences her. They've got a chatty cabby and, sure enough, he also has supersonic hearing.
"You got problems with your old man?" he asks her through his rear view. Santana peers up at him over the top of her glasses. "For another twenty, I can kick his ass and make it look like an accident."
Santana shoves her things at Quinn and opens the door. "How about I give you another twenty to mind your own fucking business?" she says as she shimmies out the car. "Wait, you should be doing that anyway because it's what I'm paying you for. Wait here until I tell you you can leave."
She slams the door closed on his quick apologies and heads towards the motel. She takes a look around her and up at the door they spotted from the car and heads towards it, heels clicking over the asphalt of the parking lot. She keeps her hands to herself as she precariously climbs the stairs to the second floor and wanders up towards room 2F, making sure to not touch anything.
That's until she gets to the door and there's no way she can't not touch something. She pulls the jacket of her sleeve up a little until it covers her wrist and tries her hardest to hit that against the wood, failing miserably when the sound it makes is nothing but a dull tap. Still, she's not risking hepatitis for anybody. She taps some more, quick and frantic and looks towards the stairs to nervously see if anyone's watching.
"You know, they're a lot cleaner than they look."
Santana jumps and turns in the other direction to find a woman staring at her. She's tall and blond and like... well, she guesses that a lot of people would call her hot. But, like, people call Quinn hot and this chick is above and beyond that. She's all sparkling blue eyes and a perfect smile. Santana opens her mouth to bite out a snarky warning, but finds that she can't.
"They also have outstanding coffee making facilities," the woman says when Santana just stands there staring, wrist halfway to rapping at the door. "And, like, there's an extra couple of pillows and a blanket in the closet if you need it, which is more than I've had in some of the places I've slept in... if you get what I mean."
Santana thinks she does, but she's not quite sure, which is a new concept because there isn't often a time when she's not sure she gets something. She either does or she doesn't.
The woman narrows her eyes, tapping the motel key card against her palm. "Are you okay?" she asks, gently.
Santana's not sure why she's so out of her comfort zone. Her mile a minute mind convinces her that it's just because this woman seems to be genuinely nice and undeserving of her usual bitchiness. With the added reminder that she's only had one cup of coffee today and she's probably lost half the usual capacity of her intelligence, she's sure she understands why she's currently looking like such a dick.
"I..." she stutters out. "I'm - I'm trying..." She trails off.
The woman smiles kindly. "One of those days?" she says without a hint of teasing. "I have those sometimes." She shrugs. "I forget my words sometimes, too. And..." Her eyes spark suddenly and she pats down her pockets. "I forget my cellphone all the time." She laughs and slips her key card into the lock. "Excuse me," she smiles and then she's stepping back into the room, closing the door behind her.
Santana shakes herself quickly and starts rapping on the door with her bare knuckles, desperate to not be there when the woman reemerges.
"It's me," she hisses when she hears shocked gasps from within, the low warning voice of someone desperate to not be caught. "I swear to God, Will... you said you wouldn't fucking do this anymore. It's fucking – "
She stops as the door opens but it's punctuated by the door down the hall reopening at the same time. Will stands at the door wrapped in a sheet as the woman along the hall exits her room and closes the door.
Santana's struck dumb at the sight of her again, for different reasons this time, glad when Will turns his face away without even being told to do so. The woman smiles and readjusts her bag over her shoulder, pulls her thick wool hat over her ears and taps her cellphone against her palm just like she'd done her key card. She wanders past them, squeezing past Santana as she dumbly turns to watch her leave.
When they're face to face in the tiny walkway, the woman smirks. "Have a better day," she mumbles so only Santana can hear. Santana's pretty sure she doesn't blink until a few moments later when she sees the woman crossing the street below.
"Do you think she recognized me?" Will says from within the room. Santana rounds on him like a hungry, rabid dog and hits him square in his bare and sweaty chest.
"I don't fucking know, you idiot," she hisses breathlessly. "And if she did it's your own damn fault for doing this again."
She pushes past him and into the room, heading straight for the pretty little red head in the corner. He really is nothing but a creature of habit in everything he does. Pretty little red heads and crazy fake blondes are what he always goes for. Always. But he's really not picky as long as he gets his dick wet.
"You," Santana says pointing to her. "Address and damn phone number now because here's the deal: you keep your slutty mouth shut and we deliver an envelope of hundred dollar bills to your home within the next forty-eight hours. Mr -"
She looks to Will, waiting.
"Clooney," he says from the doorway.
She rolls her eyes. "Mr Clooney will greatly appreciate it."
The girl nods because Santana prides herself in being intimidating in other ways than her genius-level intelligence and good looks. She spins on her heels and glares at Will.
"You. Get dressed. You've got a thing to get to."
She refuses to talk to him until he comes to find her the next day when she's getting ready for a fundraiser in Alabama.
Quinn leaves the room when he invites himself in and Santana barely turns her eyes away from the mirror to look at him. She just continues to pin her hair back and make herself look good, just as he'd instructed, while Will sits himself down on the end of the bed.
"I was drunk."
She shakes her head, her rage causing her hands to shake. She slams down the bobby pins in her hands until they fly around her on the floor.
"For three days?" she says quietly, unable to mask her disappointment. "After that thing with the blonde you said you wouldn't risk it. You said that being good was more important." She scoffs. "You have a fucking wife, Will. You have two daughters and a family and you're frontrunner to win the candidacy. Why would you fuck all that up for a girl who couldn't even spell her own address correctly?"
He leans forwards, elbows on his knees and hands clasped together in front of him. His wedding ring glimmers in the refracted light from the mirror. He doesn't look guilty, or ashamed. He just looks sorry that he got caught. She doesn't want to call the bubbling in her stomach regret. She doesn't want to call it doubt, either. She looks him up and down through the mirror and tries to see all the good things about him.
"I'll try to be better," he shrugs. "I'll try to be better because I know how much people have given up for me. You, especially. It's just... this is harder than I thought it would be."
Santana's shoulders slump hopelessly. She doesn't know how to tell him that she's sure it's only going to get harder.
"You're lucky that there's nobody better out there, you know?" she decides to tell him instead. "You're really damn lucky that no one wants to run for president anymore. Ryan's dead, Whittier's a grumpy old shit who appeals to other grumpy old shits. Hudson's... he's a toddler. It'd be like Bear In The Big Blue House. Well, White House." Will laughs and shakes his head."You're the only one good enough to vote for and be left with a hope in hell of us not getting bombed by China or something."
"You really need to brush up on your foreign affairs, I think," Will says carefully. Santana can't help the smile that quirks at the corners of her mouth.
"You know what I mean," she says, rolling her eyes. "You've got to do everything right if we're going to have a chance of winning this thing." He nods and she sighs as he gets up silently. "You told me you wanted to change things," she says as he wanders across the room to the door. It sounds like a warning.
"I know," he pauses at the door handle and looks back at her. "I'll be better," he repeats and then he's gone.
He does get better... so much better, in fact, that his schedule becomes almost too much to handle.
They're darting across the country, doing more things in a day than they should. He asks Emma and the girls to come with him to everything they can to make him look better. People who weren't going to vote for him before start seeing him as the wholesome face of family values and he he goes up in the polls quicker than she thought possible.
What's even better is that he starts talking properly about things that matter instead of making up his own bullshit. He reads his notes – she catches him doing it – and the things she told him to say, the things he told her he actually cared about, start leaving his mouth with perfectly formed reasoning.
He looks at her sometimes and she knows he's making sure she's satisfied.
She doesn't know how she couldn't be when everyone else is.
He's going to be the damn president and it's going to be all because of her.
She knows it.
She jolts awake.
Shit. Not again.
"What?" she says, rubbing her eyes and searching for her glasses. She really needs to stop taking them off because every time she does she falls asleep and she just doesn't have time for that right now.
Maybe she can, like, glue them to her face or something.
"Line four," Quinn says from her desk just outside Santana's office. She barely has enough time to sit around and do nothing anymore. Santana's pretty sure she's doing her own work and acting as Santana's secretary on top of it.
Santana nods and picks up the phone. "Lopez," she groans.
"Hello to you, too!" comes a familiar yet crackly voice over the phone. Santana smiles despite herself and stretches.
"Good morning, Professor Corcoran," she says softly. "I'm incredibly busy and important so what can I do for you this morning?"
"Don't be cute; it doesn't suit you," she chuckles and Santana smirks. "I need a favor."
Santana's smile instantly drops. It's been a few weeks since they caught up or emailed. She assumes that's why Shelby's ringing her. Her teacher turned mentor turned friend still worries about her, even after ten years and too much success.
"No," she says.
Shelby splutters. "You didn't even give me a chance."
Santana laughs and shakes her head. She knows she's meant to be grateful and willing to do whatever she can to help a person who's helped her so much – who got here where she is now, if she's honest – but, really, there's no way. No way. Not after what happened last time.
"No," she says again.
Shelby sighs. "I promise it won't be like the last time," she assures. "She won't be like the last one."
"The one who set the damn copy room on fire, you mean?"
"She's better," Shelby intones in that way that made Santana believe all these things when she was a lot younger, sure in a way that always manages to widen her mind just a little bit more. "She's only a junior but she's a little lost and she just needs somewhere to go for the summer so her dad doesn't yell at her."
Santana sighs and shakes her head. She's too tired to argue, too busy to care. She shakes her head and looks through the window into chaos outside. Quinn juggles papers and two phones and looks like she might blackout at any second.
Santana rolls her eyes and shakes her head.
"Just... get her on the first plane out here."
"What's your name?" she says a day later.
She's signing off on four articles that are going to print in an hour, a press release, discussing a possible appearance at a benefit for a charity while they're in South Carolina next week and she really doesn't have time to do this, but she called the damn girl here.
"Um... Sugar," she says nervously.
It's the insecurity in her voice, the fact that she sounds completely unsure of her own name that has Santana pausing and looking at her before glancing at Quinn.
Her finger is nudging her glasses down her nose, so she can look at her over the top of them, before she even realizes she's doing it. The girl flinches, intimidated. Santana relishes it for half a second because it never gets boring.
"No, really..." she says. "What's your name?"
The girl looks even more unsure as she says "Sugar" again.
Santana's eyes widen at her and she throws down her pen. "God. Okay. Tell me," she says lowly. "Are you, or have you ever been, a stripper?"
The girl takes an unsure step away from the desk at the question, brow furrowing in confusion as she shrinks into herself. "Um... no?"
Santana glances at Quinn again. She looks like she's about four seconds away from cracking her shit up. "Listen, if you're a stripper or... I don't know what they're calling it these days," she waggles her fingers offhandedly. "An exotic dancer, or whatever, I don't need it in my campaign. So, if you'd rather be throwing your thong at old men for a dollar, you can leave because I don't need that kind of scandal."
The girl looks at Quinn and her wide eyes beg her to say this is a joke, that she's kidding. Quinn is too busy laughing at Santana, at what's going on around her. Santana cracks a smile and shakes her head despite herself.
The girl just... doesn't get it.
"My name's Sugar," she repeats. "Sugar Motta."
Santana laughs again and sighs. She rolls her eyes, giving up because she really doesn't have time for this. "Can you make coffee?" she asks instead.
Sugar smiles. "My dad's the CEO of Mocha Motta, one of the largest coffee chains in the country," she nods. "I can get all the free coffee I want."
Quinn stops laughing instantly and gasps. Santana turns to her with a grin at the thought of non-stop, good coffee.
"Excellent," she chuckles with a nod of her head.
All she has to do is keep her out of the copy room.
She doesn't know if it's because of Sugar's constant supply of coffee or the fact that the girl doesn't have to look before she diverts a call, but things instantly start running smoother the minute she gets into the office. The girl must be on roller skates because she never damn sits down but always ends up doing everything as she's told.
"Whittier's debate is on C-Span in five minutes, Miss Lopez," she reminds her and Santana nods, reaching for the remote that Sugar already has in her hand, pointed to the TV. "Here's your coffee," she says dropping it in the place of the empty cup on her desk that she rushes out of the room.
Quinn wanders in after as she leaves and shakes her head. "Tell me she's a robot," Quinn says. "Tell me Shelby sent you a robot. I could believe it."
Santana shakes her head and glances at the TV to watch Whittier hand Hudson his ass.
She's about to respond to Quinn when something catches her eye: blond hair, blue eyes, a smile that had made her knees go week. Her face falls and she looks as the camera cuts away too quickly for the face to register.
She gets up, moving closer to see if she sees again, but Whittier's out on the stand early as usual and Hudson is late.
"What's wrong?" Quinn asks when her hand presses to the TV.
It couldn't be, she thinks but panics at what it could possibly mean. Was she put there in that hotel? Did she see? Is she following them? Is she a reporter?
Panic and rage mixes together to form nothing but irrationality.
"Nothing," she shakes her head. "Nothing, just... nothing."
It was always going to be a hard week. She leans against his desk as he paces back and forth across room, reading the notes she'd given him.
"It's... don't worry about it," she says softly. "Just... say what's written there, don't deviate from it and you won't have any problems."
"Santana, I'm not so sure about this..." he says lowly. "This is aggressive and..."
"It's a stance and it's more than you've had on the issue since you started this campaign," she exasperates. They've been here for two hours and there's more to done if he would just grab hold of this. "They've been riding your ass about this for months... we've refused to talk about it from the beginning and this is our chance to make a statement. This could work well in our favor."
"Yeah," Will says, pausing in his pacing. "Or it could come back and bite me on the ass ruining the campaign."
She stands up and shakes her head. "People will appreciate a person who fights for what they believe in over a flakey asshole who passes the buck to everyone else, letting them decide what he believes. A leader leads and that's what you need to do. Even the pro-lifers can get on board with this, Will, it's..."
She steps towards her. "We talked about this, okay? What don't you get?" Her voice raised, he has no choice but to look at her. "There was a little girl and she was violated and instead of protecting her and making sure she got every single bit of support she needed, some fucking hick judge abused the courts because he didn't agree with it. Don't you see that?" She looks at him emphatically and shakes her head. "You protect the girl, Will." She shakes her head. "In this case, we protect the girl because that's all we should do, the only thing."
He shakes his head and sets down the paper. "I don't..."
"You protect the girl," Will she says again. "That should have been the judge's job and now it's the Supreme Court's job and you have a voice." She picks up the paper and shoves it at his chest. "You wanna protect the people? Do it."
The Supreme Court Justices are being urged to come to a verdict this week on the case of Bow vs Mississippi. This controversial yet groundbreaking case, of a seventeen year-old girl – raped on her way home in Mississippi – has made history in the way that it has highlighted the inconsistencies of law when it comes to abortion. After the girl's father refused permission for an abortion in accordance with Mississippi state law – which says that both parents need give their consent before an abortion can be performed – the most controversial aspect of the case is Mississippi Judge Paul Sturgeon's reluctance to form a decision on the case when it was taken to court to gain an exception from this rule. This sent the case to the Mississippi Supreme Court, which upheld the judge's decision, after which the case was appealed to the Supreme Court here in Washington.
That the case has come this far and that an exception hasn't been granted sooner has caused an uproar amongst almost all Pro-Choice organizations. They're calling on the Supreme Court to strike down the states' parental consent laws, the inconsistent application of which, they argue has prevented this unnamed girl from exercising her right to choose.
And as primary season approaches, these organizations have also found it fit to urge current Democratic presidential candidates their stances on this issue and what they would change. Our correspondent caught up with leading Democratic candidate, Governor William Schuester after a speech in Iowa today to ask his opinion on this groundbreaking case. Here's what he said:
"Both in Congress and as Governor of Ohio, I have always supported a woman's right to choose. It is the Supreme Court's role to determine how states can place restrictions on this fundamental and deeply cherished right of American citizens."
She's fuming as they drive the whole way back to hotel, their car trailing behind Will's. Quinn and Puck hold her on either side as she fumes, breath uneasy and her limbs shaking with rage. She can hear Quinn urging her to stay calm on one side and Puck telling her Will's a pussy on the other.
She storms after him as he heads back to the Presidential suite of the hotel and slams the bedroom door closed after he's walked inside
"What the hell was that?" she screams. "You had one thing to do, one thing, and you could have been brilliant. One fucking thing and you couldn't do that. You couldn't show that you're willing to protect one damn citizen in this country other than yourself! What the fuck, Will?"
He rounds on her, face frustrated and angry. His finger points threateningly in her face and she's so angry it doesn't scare her. She thinks she could grab it and break it if she tried but she knows it wouldn't even be close to enough.
"Listen," he says, voice low, almost a whisper so that no one can hear. "Not all of us are idealistic little shits like you who want to change the world. This is my campaign and I'll say what I believe, not what someone tells me to. That's what you said, wasn't it? To speak for myself. Well, I did so you can't fault me for that. I will not be a puppet for the agenda you have for this country. You think I'm selfish... well, look in the mirror."
Her eyes are watering as she shakes her head at him in disbelief. She won't cry; that just means she'll become everything he expects her to be.
Instead, she storms out. She's better than this.
Quinn looks at her and asks everyone to leave her alone. She sits at the hotel bar, reading the schedule for the next two weeks until she's got it memorized, and knocking back more whiskey than she can handle until she forgets what he said.
She sits in silence and waits for the apology, waits for the time when he comes to her and tells her she's right. Except, she's not so sure it'll happen this time. She sees the news reports and the articles Quinn shows her and knows that his quote is making the rounds. They call it safe, but his reputation is intact as the country continues to debate and argue the topic.
She tells herself that she's not wrong, she just wanted him to be better, that he could have been better and wasn't brave enough to try.
He goes to a fundraiser in Connecticut the next day and she shakes her head, tells Puck and Quinn to deal with the press, while she sits at the desk in her hotel room and tries to figure out what her next move is. She didn't realize she'd be in opposition with her own candidate as well as the others, to try and make this country a better place.
She's on her balcony at three in the morning when they find her. They look confused and Santana sighs, lips pursing around the end of her cigarette as she drags much-needed nicotine into her lungs.
"Santana..." Quinn says softly. "Come... come take a look at this."
She nods her head to let them know that she'll be in shortly and smokes the rest of her cigarette slowly before going inside. They're in the other suite, the one filled with their computers and TVs and with paper covering every surface. Puck's assistant, Lauren, sits on the couch with her computer on her lap. The TV plays in front of them as they all surround it.
"What is it?" she says, walking towards them, kicking off her heels and pulling the tails of her shirt from her skirt.
Lauren looks at her as the others all stare at the screen. A news report is playing and they're all enthralled by what it's telling them. All Santana cares about is getting a beer from the mini bar and maybe getting drunk again like last night so she can forget the mess that's going on around her.
"It was posted online five hours ago and it's already making the rounds," Lauren tells her and she frowns instantly. "Everybody's picked it up. It's already on C-Span."
She moves closer, pushing Mike and Puck out of the way until she can see what they're looking at her. Her heart instantly plummets and her eyes go wide as she sees that face, large as anything, on the screen. Her voice fails her, just as it had done outside that damn motel room and she shakes her head as the woman talks on screen.
She looks familiar now, with her hair pinned up and wearing her conservative yet stylish black dress. Her smile nags a reminder at the back of her head now that it's lined with red lipstick. The only tell-tale sign that she's the same woman is the softness of her voice and the way her hand taps against the podium.
She doesn't know who this woman is but she feels like she should, or like she wants to.
It's then that she hears what the woman is saying.
"...it is inhumanely cruel and totally unacceptable to have used her like that for a political agenda, that this girl, this young woman, has been exploited and violated and attacked in every way a human being can be."
Her brow narrows and her words finds her. She looks at Lauren and shakes her head. "What is this?" she demands. "What's going on?"
Quinn steps up behind her. "It's... she's some Congresswoman and activist called on by a women's organization to talk about abortion," she explains. "Obviously, they had to talk about Bow vs Mississippi."
"The Women's Reproductive Health Network?" Santana asks. Her eyes seek out Sugar, who practically has her call logs and her schedule memorized, to ask her something. "Didn't we turn that down? Isn't this... isn't this a campaign thing?"
Sugar nods and Quinn hums, deep in thought. "They think she's gonna announce her intention to run," she nods at the TV. "Apparently, she's been making appearances for the past couple of weeks."
"She was in Des Moines," Santana says, breathlessly. She hates herself for how much she still cares about Will winning even though he's a complete asshole. "She was at the motel we found him at, three damn rooms down the hall."
Quinn leans forward to get a closer look at her on the TV and her eyes widen too. "Oh my god, you're right..."
"We're fucking screwed," Puck shakes his head. "This bitch is hot and she's got shit against us."
"Will you shut up?" Lauren spits. "I'm trying to listen."
"As we move towards the primary season..." the woman says with ease and grace and irrevocable confidence in the words she speaks. "...we have to think about what voice we want for the Democratic Party, whether we've chosen someone who won't in any way, at any time, or in any circumstance, allow violence to be done towards women, towards anyone." Santana gulps as the woman speaks. She feels the other's eyes on her, staring at her as she listens to this woman say everything she'd wanted Will to say, without so much as a flinch of concern to what might happen to her or what anyone might say to refute it. Her head shakes emphatically at the audience in front of her and Santana feels drawn and repelled to the honesty in her eyes at the same time."I don't think there's a more important question being put before the American people right now..."
The room stays silent for long moments and they watch as the video cuts away to other people who have talked about the subject of abortion in the past weeks. Santana waits until Will's video from the night before plays, his weak comments nothing compared to the woman's, before she looks away from the TV. For once, she can't handle knowing how right she is.
"Who the hell is this woman?" Puck says turning from the TV to look at them with panic. "She looks like she's twenty! Why are they saying she wants to run for damn president!"
"She's thirty-two," Lauren says, bored.
He scoffs. "That's still too young," he shakes his head. "Thirty-five. Those are the rules, right?"
Quinn shakes her head. "Thirty," she says. "They added an amendment about a year ago but it barely got any news coverage. No one thought that anyone that young would actually try and run for President."
They all look around at each other. Puck shakes his head and holds out his arms in a shrug.
"Then who the hell is she?"
Santana sees Lauren open her mouth to tell them but Santana's brain kicks in and she's speaking before she can make the sounds leave her mouth. She remembers nights watching old C-Span senate videos to make sure she was up to date, impressive speeches and that damn smile.
She knows exactly who she is.
"Pierce," she says, a grunt of disbelief. "She's Representative Brittany S. Pierce of New York."